Good baseball players look to grow their game. It’s how the good ones become great. This becomes a perfect description of Colby Vanhook, a 6 foot and 180 pound uncommitted 2023 two-way player from Concord, NC. He simply wants to elevate his skills across the board to a point where he’s the best he can be.
As a freshman at J.M. Robinson High School, Vanhook is looking to maximize those skills and the necessary savvy in all areas too. With a heavy fastball ranging 79-82 right now, he says he hopes to be in the mid-80’s by the spring. Along with his slurvy breaking ball, he knows his opportunity to be dominant on the mound will come through improved strength (currently working out 3-4x a week) and investing in fine turning his craft this winter.
The right-hander is also has a chance to be a force at the plate coming out of the gate in his scholastic career. Though sometimes a bit “pull” heavy with his swing, Colby plans to work towards hitting to all fields more effectively and add some power to his usual line-drive swing.
Though he’s been on the corners of the infield earlier in his career, he seems to be excited about pushing those corners to the outfield and letting the hitting and pitching determine the career direction.
With all these attributes it makes perfect sense why both Vanhook and the Dirtbags saw the other as a great fit. Colby has aspirations to be a top level recruit at a D1 program while he journeys through these high school years. And of course, the Bags are always looking for those players who are willing to do the work in order to be their very best.
The Middle School Director for the Dirtbags, Logan Koch, got a chance to work with Colby last summer saw these aforementioned traits and recognized he brings a lot to the table. Koch remarked, “Colby plays the game the right way and is always looking to improve his game. He is fun to put in the lineup.”
Colby mentions the reputation of the Dirtbags as a primary reason for his wanting to join the organization last summer, and ultimately playing for the Chin Music squad. In his words the move was to be around “better players” who would push him through competition to raise the bar of his skills.
Further clarifying his point, Vanhook said, “I want to play at an elite level beyond high school.”
His initial campaigns as a Dirtbag didn’t disappoint either. Colby said he greatly enjoyed not only being around other players who had the same passion for the game as himself, but also the chance to regularly play at venues where college coaches would regularly check out the team.
Such experiences brought improvements to Vanhook, who said, “The big thing is being around people who are good players.(Me) being the best doesn’t really push me. Competition all around me makes me want to push myself … iron sharpens iron.”
Where Colby noticed the greatest jumps were with his command on the mound and his mental approach to the game offensively. By accessing better mechanics through coaching and instruction he has seen his effectiveness and availability improve. As for his hitting approach, he has worked hard to mitigate the mental distractions that often prevent optimal performance. These are signs of a player going from good to great.
The goals are far from accomplished however. In the off-season, Vanhook is looking to increase his flexibility as he is aware that lends itself to enhanced performance and a proactive approach to injury prevention. Speed development is another identified goal, which would lend itself not only to getting around the bases on a gapper, but also allow his to track those gappers in the outfield.
Where all this will lead is anyone’s guess when it comes to post-secondary destinations. But rest assured, Colby has an idea on programs he’d like to see recruit him. It’s literally a “who’s who” among nationally elite programs. Common traits he will be looking to find when the recruiting heats up will be the chance to compete for championships at a school who is passionate about baseball. He also prioritizes the coaching staff willing to build relationships beyond the field and the program having a reputation for producing talented players that are regularly drafted.
According to Koch, “He (Colby) is going to make any college program very happy. He has huge upside and I am really looking forward to following his career.”
Bottomline, the kid is willing to put forth the committed effort to get better and find that match.
Case in point, when asked how did he improve as a hitter while discussing his game, Vanhook plainly, yet confidently stated, “I worked at it.”
That’s how the good become great.